What is common between Fight Club and Bangla dubbed GTA: Vice City? The answer is: word of mouth.
The David Ficher film became popular through CD sales, so did the Bangla version of GTA: Vice City - a fond memory for many high schoolers in Bangladesh.
In 2004, Maruf Mostafa was in grade 12. He was an avid gamer and he wanted to make some money.
One time, he played with an idea: what if GTA: Vice City was in Bangla? What if the game characters spoke in local dialects instead of a 1980s Miami accent?
Maruf pitched the idea to his friends. "Let us do this commercially," he proposed.
Back then, no one had ever heard of Bangla dubbing of video games. Miami con men swaggering with a Barisal accent? No one saw that coming.
"A team of 10 people worked for about six months for the dubbing," Maruf told The Business Standard. "Initially, the challenge was to interpret the American context of the game in our local dialects."
Maruf said GTA: Vice City was a game for mature audiences.
Hence, it contained profane dialogues that were not quite suitable for our culture. "We tried to tone down the slangs. It turned out quite funny," he added.
Back in those days, the internet was quite a luxury. Cyber cafés were the last resort to have access to broadband internet.
Maruf had to go back and forth local cafés to download softwares to make his dubbing project happen.
Open world games like GTA had the scope to squeeze in fun elements.
In Vice City, gamers could roam around Miami in different vehicles.
Once a gamer got into a car, songs would to play in the background.
The official soundtracks of Vice City included artists like Megadeth, Judas Priest, Mötley Crüe, Twisted Sisters etc. But what about the Bangla version?
"I really wanted to use some local music for the Bangla version," Maruf said.
He approached local music labels to allow him to use songs by top tier artists like Miles, LRB, and James for the game. But due to copyright infringement issues, the plan fell apart.
Maruf still wanted Bangla songs for the game. So he used songs by West Bengal artists in the game.
"I have had many instances when gamers from Kolkata reached out to me and said how much they loved Bangla GTA: Vice City. One of the reasons it became popular in Kolkata was because it featured songs by musicians of Kolkata," Maruf recalled.
But Maruf still regrets for not being able to feature a Nagar Baul James song in the game. "I wish gamers could listen to 'Meera Bai' by James while playing. That would have been great," he said.
Till this day, Maruf is an avid gamer and plays his favourite sci-fi games, while juggling his duty as an IT expert and a father.
Maruf sold the rights of the game to a CD company. He is not sure about how many units were sold throughout its popularity period, but it was a hefty number indeed.
"The response and love I received from fans came to me as a huge inspiration. Dubbing the game is a long cherished memory for me," a thankful Maruf recalled.
Maruf may not attempt to dub video games in the future. But if you want to relive some Vice City nostalgia, head over to his YouTube channel "Maruf Mostafa."